Deploy data and Artificial Intelligence in the right way, and then retailers have a chance to make their promotional pitches count amidst the clutter and noise. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

The idea of having a personal shopper is something that has always been associated with the elite and exceptionally wealthy. It’s an idea that, to be frank, for the vast majority of us has been nothing but a dream.

But personalisation in retail has now been developed for the masses. And while it might not be a real-life personal assistant picking out your purchases, AI-assisted personalisation in shopping is far more attuned to what you actually want. This is true because AI has the ability to offer a seamless, instantaneous and personalised approach to retail.

There’s a thought process in the retail industry that products need to be adapted to the preferences of customers even before they themselves really know what they want.

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Bombarding consumers

Think about all the leaflets, pamphlets, emails, texts, and social media notifications that you have received during your life from retailers bombarding you with items that you have absolutely no interest at all in purchasing. Consumers are often faced with a barrage of offers, and these can often be overwhelming and lead to them ignoring, muting or even becoming annoyed at a brand.

Make it direct

That’s how AI personalisation in shopping can help – by identifying purchases of genuine interest to shoppers. The same principles apply to rewarding shoppers for their purchases. After all, who doesn’t want a reward or discount on a future purchase?

But, again, how many times have you been disappointed by a loyalty programme or scheme ‘rewarding’ you with something that holds little appeal?


This is one of the reasons why financial institutions such as First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) are continually expanding their payments businesses. FAB recently launched ‘Super Surprises’, an initiative driving merchant offers and campaigns through an AI-based programme focused on consumer “persona” built around the spend behaviour. The very essence is that it enables personalised offers that matter to the customer – something that they want.

The best part is that the merchants only pay on successful conversions of new footfalls and increased sales.

The initiative is the latest under the bank’s ‘Payment as a Platform and built on analysing spending behaviour of every unique card that interacts with the payment ecosystem (point-of-sale machines and payment gateway).

Surprise them

Personalisation leads to consumers being “super surprised” – rather than ignoring, muting or becoming annoyed at a brand. And personalisation in turn potentially – and even likely – leads to strengthened customer retention and increased sales in the longer term. According to a study by Deloitte UK, some 72 per cent of British businesses had already achieved a return on their AI investment by the end of last year.

Furthermore, super surprises enables smaller merchants to become referral partners for driving offers, where they will also earn a referral income. In a world that has changed recently, it’s important to get customers back into stores as well as shopping online. The personal experience – the social aspect – of retail is something that is important to how we have operated as societies for generations.

But be it online or in stores, the one consistent in any kind of shopping is you – the buyer, the consumer. And that’s why using data in all its forms and possibilities always has to be with the benefit of you – the customer – in mind.

Not only is AI the real deal when it comes to consumer purchases, it’s the here and now and very much the future too. Because personalisation when it comes to shopping is not just a dream for the elite anymore. It’s everyone’s reality.

- Ramana Kumar is Executive Vice-President and Head of Payments and Digital Banking at FAB.